SALT LAKE CITY, UT (BRAIN)—History was made—and discussed—at the Conservation Alliance Breakfast yesterday. The usual packed house, at what has become the premier advocacy gathering at OR, listened to Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, link the current struggle to protect the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) all the way back to 1858 and the birth of President Teddy Roosevelt.
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Brinkley reeled the crowd in with his narrative of Roosevelt’s rise. As a child, he was obsessed with nature and felt better in the clean air away from the cities. He also learned taxidermy—which Brinkley explained was how people studied animals in the 19th Century. These early interests helped lay the foundation for today’s protection of public lands.
“He said ‘No,’” Brinkley stated, referring to Roosevelt’s insistence that big corporations and mines be kept out of wildlife refuges in Alaska. Roosevelt’s big stick turned the Antiquities Act of 1906, originally intended as a way to keep dinosaur bones from looters, into an executive order he used to protect the Grand Canyon as a National Monument.
“It’s the greatest example of erosion you’ll find,” Roosevelt responded to critics who claimed the Antiquities Act was only for preserving scientific samples, Brinkley said.
The historian, who is a professor at Rice University, also discussed how President Eisenhower’s decision to create ANWR in 1960 could be traced back to Roosevelt.
Brinkley’s upcoming book delves into the subject in greater detail. It will be a history of ANWR that touches on Roosevelt, Olaus and Mardy Murie and female World War II pilots Celia Hunter and Ginny Hill. Brinkley says President Obama should preserve the refuge this year, on its 50th anniversary.
In other Alliance news, the board’s new vice president, CamelBak CEO Sally McCoy, congratulated president Adam Forest for his four years of service.
During that time the organization that funds grassroots conservation groups through donations from outdoor businesses has grown to 178 members and $900,000 in yearly grants. That money has helped protect 16 million acres of land, 1,000 miles of river and three climbing areas and remove four dams.
“I would like to imagine a Conservation Alliance with 178 recruiters,” Forest said. “Imagine what the Conservation Alliance would look like with 1,000 members. This is one thing we can rally around as an industry.”
The group announced new members Arc’teryx, Briggs and Riley, International Outdoor Group, Jetboil, Ocean Minded, STM bags, Under Solen Media, Managing America Project, Wild Things, Woolrich and Clearwater Outdoors.
The Alliance also thanked the heads of member brands that have made major contributions, including Casey Sheahan of Patagonia, Sally Jewell of REI, Steve Rendle of The North Face, James Curley of Keen and Will Manzer of EMS.